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Online dating with Joshua trees! Review by Atlas Obscura

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Joshua Trees

published in Atlas Obscura

by Jessica Leigh Hester

...Harrower, who grew up roughly 20 minutes from the park, wants people to fall in love with Joshua trees—and to get curious about interspecies relationships between the trees, moths, and underground fungi that might help keep them healthy. Harrower recently finished her PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has launched a collaborative digital project called “Hey JTree,” a science-communication effort inspired by dating apps.

Sixteen trees throughout the park get the Tinder treatment, with cute portraits, location information, and coy little profiles peppered with made-up names (say hi to Jerome, Eleanor, Shorty, and Marty) and real-world data, including the local temperature; soil moisture; tree height; elevation; number of seeds; and sightings of yucca moths, which pollinate the Joshua tree and lay their eggs in its blossoms. (Harrower performed much of this field work while pregnant or with her infant son in tow, with a truck and ladder borrowed from her parents, and her mom helping out as an assistant and lunch-packer.) Atlas Obscura talked to Harrower about the project, and what the trees are up against...


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